Today, we celebrate the Supreme Court decision overturning key parts of Texas House Bill (HB2), which had forced mass shut downs of clinics across the state of Texas. HB2 mandated that abortion clinics meet the building requirements of surgical centers and demanded their doctors have admitting privileges at hospitals. This morning, HB2 was struck down in a 5-3 decision in Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, which has been widely hailed as the most important court case for pro-choice advocates in 20 years.
HB2 exemplifies TRAP laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These kinds of laws subject abortion doctors and reproductive health clinics to arbitrary, pointless, and difficult regulations that have no basis in health care; they only serve to eradicate the reproductive rights that had been established by Roe v. Wade. In the case of Texas and HB2, the number of clinics providing abortions dwindled from 41 clinics to 18 clinics, causing hundreds of thousands of women to self-induce abortions, or travel hundreds of miles and spend substantially larger sums of money to receive an abortion.
In a statement shared with Bustle, Dr. Willie Parker, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said that today's SCOTUS decision "is an historic confirmation of a woman's right to make her own decisions about her health, her family, and her future. Politicians can no longer use ideologically driven laws with no medical basis to threaten women's health by restricting access to safe, legal abortion care."
But before we get too high off of this thrilling example of justice, we must remember that the fight for abortion access is far from over. If you are not already familiar with barriers in other states, a couple minutes on Twitter will remind you that so many things are terrible. Dr. Parker said, "The battle to protect abortion access is not over. We will continue to fight to ensure that our physicians can fulfill their deep, conscientious commitment to providing all women who need it — in Texas and across the country — with dignified, compassionate, and appropriate reproductive health care."
Here are five ways that you, too, can support this SCOTUS decision and advocate for reproductive health care:
1. Become A Clinic Defender
Following this victory, there will be no shortage of anti-choice protesters harassing and intimidating patients walking into clinics — all in an attempt to shame and frighten women out of exercising their right to bodily autonomy. Clinic defenders, also called clinic escorts, support these patients by guiding them through the aggressive protesters and reminding them that they are the only ones capable of making this decision, so don't be afraid or ashamed.
Clinic defending is not a counter protest; instead, it helps de-escalate situations so that women don't have to engage with protesters and their fabricated statistics about the procedure. Patients are always grateful for support and affirmation in these vulnerable moments, and I can attest to the importance of clinic defending. Learn more about clinic defending, and get information on volunteering.
2. Donate To Pro-Choice Organizations
If you have the financial means, now would be a great time to provide monetary support to the organizations that fought so hard to secure this human rights victory and face constant threats of defunding. Some organizations that you can donate to are Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Fund Texas Choice, Fund Abortion Now, Women's Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, and 1 in 3 Campaign.
3. Prepare Yourself For Any Argument
Scores of people are going to be furious with the Supreme Court for defending women's rights to health care, and you may find yourself in a conversation with one of these characters. In the past, you might have changed the subject or not challenged their argument — even if you vehemently disagreed with their dangerous ideology. Now that we have taken a huge step forward in this seemingly endless battle for control of our bodies, we must be ready to continue the fight to dismantle our oppressive culture. Familiarize yourself with the most common arguments against abortion, and know how to counter them. Take advantage of Bustle's guide for how to argue pro-choice and shut down folks who claim that abortion is murder, that abortion is dangerous, that women always regret their abortions, that women should only turn to adoption instead, etc.
Understanding and communicating the full spectrum of reproductive rights may also help you break through the kind of mindset in support of a barbaric law like HB2. Reproductive rights also encompasses the right to prenatal care and a healthy pregnancy. The clinics that had been shut down by HB2 were the same places where a woman would go to receive the health care needed to successfully carry a pregnancy to term. So how then can HB2 claim to be about "protecting women" in any capacity?
4. Educate Yourself About Pre-Roe v. Wade History
We often see religious leaders and religious terminology at the forefront of the pro-life movement, but we can't forget about pro-choice organizations like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. It is also rarely discussed that abortion providers and faith leaders were united in advocacy for the passing of the Constitutional amendment legalizing abortion. Morally, faith leaders could not stand by and watch an estimated 5,000 women die yearly in America as a direct result of unsafe back-alley or self-induced abortions. Next time you have to remind somebody that, no, abortion will not send a woman to hell, remember this information.
Additionally, people have proven to have a very short memory when it comes to history. The possibility of HB2 being upheld by the Supreme Court today might not seem as scary to someone who doesn't have knowledge of what it was like when women couldn't access abortions. If people were not already horrified by the acts of self-preservation that Texan women have been dangerously forced to attempt because of HB2, then perhaps schooling them on the devastating pre-Roe years will open their eyes to injustice.
5. Be Loud
You may upset people when you proclaim your support of this SCOTUS decision. When I first started writing about abortion rights and posted my articles on social media, I unintentionally burned bridges with a few mentors and friends — but human rights outweigh the decorum that asks us to not speak about a safe, quick medical procedure that 1 in 3 women will undergo in her lifetime.
Abortion has existed as an open secret for pretty much all of time — a normal, common thing that many won't talk about or admit; this created the culture which allowed HB2 to ever become law, and which allows plenty of other states to still uphold barriers to access. Normalizing abortion by sharing our personal experiences or articulating our pro-choice beliefs loudly and fearlessly will continue to challenge the culture that forced us to take HB2 all the way to the Supreme Court. This victory doesn't mean the fight is over, but it proves that we will win.
Images: Giphy (5)